League News

Tim Viens In His Own Word

Updated 05/08/2018 at 7:22pm

By Jay Luster

05/08/2018

AF Insider: Why did you choose to sell the Bucks

TV:  I wasn’t interested in being back in Vermont for the winter.  It was really tough for my family the year before. It (arena football) is not just March through June, it’s also October through March preparing.  My wife and I live in Florida so it was tough over the winter. I got the opportunity to sell the team to two guys who were in the Massachusetts area and they were in talks with the league about putting a team in Massachusetts or southern New Hampshire and apparently they hadn’t had any luck finding an arena. We had some conversations and they wanted to buy the Bucks so we entered into a purchase agreement sometime around October.  There was a payment structure that was put in place and I was going to get one-third of the ticket sales for the next three years as a part of the deal. We signed the contract and 30 days later they closed the doors and told the arena they weren’t going to play. They hurt a lot of people’s feelings up there and burned several sponsors and it (the sale) burned me out of the ticket sales portion of it for the next three years. It was a tough deal all around.

AF Insider:  There were allegations that there was supposed to be money in bank accounts that they were counting on to run the team but that money was gone.

TV:  No. If you’re buying a business or a team it doesn’t come with a bunch of cash in the bank.  There are obviously two sides to every story and it’s usually somewhere down the middle, that isn’t exactly what happened. I am in the process right now, my attorney in Florida is going to partner with a firm in Vermont because the corporation was in Vermont.  We’re going to be filing a lawsuit against Tom Sturgis and Kyle Jennings. All of my research into these guys shows they are frauds. All of the bank statements they showed us, his business worth two million dollars I think is complete BS. Kyle lives in an apartment and Tom lives in a single-wide trailer. My chance of recovering anything is probably close to nil, but you know what? At this point, it’s about making a point and showing people I was in the right. Continue reading

Eddie Verrett: Becoming a Hero

Out of college, Eddie Verrett thought he would go right into the NFL, and his future would be assured. Like the overwhelming vast majority of college players, it didn’t work out that way. He got looked at by a couple of teams and was a member of the Dallas Cowboys practice squad for a while, but the 6’3” 250 pound DE was eventually cut.  He moved to Louisiana to stay with his mom and found work, but never really felt comfortable with his situation.  Eddie decided he wanted to return to Virginia where he had attended high school. He had a girlfriend there, and they had a baby together so he decided that being in his daughters’ life was the best thing he could do for everyone including himself. After the move, he began working out to try to get another chance at the NFL which is when he got a call from the Atlanta Vultures. He’d never played arena ball before, but he knew what it was and decided to give it a shot, but once again, things didn’t go as planned.

AF Insider: Hi Eddie, thanks for speaking with me. If you don’t mind, I’d like to speak with you about your experience in arena football. I know it hasn’t always been good and I think your fans will be interested in your story.

EV: Yeah, no problem man, and thanks. I was in Norfolk working out, and I got a phone call from an AIF arena team called the Atlanta Vultures. I knew about arena football but had never played. I’m from Louisiana, so I knew about the Voodoo and the AFL. My first year in arena ball was with Atlanta, but it wasn’t a good operation. I didn’t get paid; we had no gym, no proper nourishment and on the first day of practice, we ran so much that I became shaky. We ran and ran for like three hours, just running, and I became dehydrated. We had no water, no trainers, no physicals, and they just ran us. It was crazy. We did it again on the second day, not quite as much, but we just ran and ran. On the third day, I got to the parking lot and began feeling like I was catching the flu or something. I was sitting in my car, and I wrapped myself up because I was feeling cold, but it was super-hot outside. I was dehydrated  

It may seem counterintuitive, but dehydration can bring on chills. “This occurs because your body starts to limit blood flow to the skin. In addition, water holds heat, so if you become dehydrated it can be more difficult to regulate your body temperature, which can make you become chilled faster, even when you’re not in a cold environment.” Dr. Podesta, Health.com

AF Insider: Dehydration can be very dangerous. Korey Stringer, a player for the Vikings, died from extreme dehydration. What did you do?
EV: I called my agent, and he set up an appointment for me at Emory Hospital. I was diagnosed with dehydration and muscle exhaustion. Over those two days, I went from 250 down to 240. I was lucky I had family in the area to help me through that. When I returned to camp, the owner/player was an offensive lineman, and we were doing one on ones, not outside moves, just head to head and I kept pushing him back. I’d lost a lot of weight and strength, but I kept pushing him back. He was 300 lbs and I was down to 240 and that was embarrassing for him. A couple of days later, I got a call from the coach who said he loved me, but the owner didn’t really care for me. Unfortunately, a lot of things went under the table. They owed me money for the hospital bills, and I never saw a cent of it.  
Continue reading

Shootout at the Indoor Corral

An interview with the owner of the Wichita Falls Nighthawks

by Jay Luster

11/01/2017

On July 25, 2017, I spoke with the owner of the Wichita Falls Nighthawks, Drew Carnes. I asked him, specifically at that time if the team was leaving the IFL for the CIF? Rumors had been swirling around the team, and the Sioux Falls Storm, for weeks, and he said the decision had not yet been made. About a month later, Sioux Falls announced their departure from the IFL and a couple of weeks after that the Nighthawks joined them in the CIF. For the Nighthawks, it was a matter of lowering their expenses. Carnes had said, “With my closest playing partner more than 580 miles away, My travel expenses were probably $50k more than anyone else in the IFL.” This isn’t an unfamiliar issue to arenafootballinsider.com readers because we’ve reported teams having difficulties with travel times, and expenses, many times in the past. What made this different was the contentiousness that immediately arose between the leagues and the teams. The same day the Nighthawks announced they had followed the Sioux Falls Storm from the IFL into the CIF, two teams defected from the CIF for the IFL, and lawsuits soon followed.

When I spoke with Mr. Carnes again on October 23rd, he had already announced the team would not be playing anywhere in 2018. The IFL claimed the Wichita Falls team did not provide correct legal notice of their intention to leave the league. Carnes said, “The bylaws they quoted on the IFL league affiliation contract I signed are not the bylaws they claim we’re playing under. One of the key areas says we had 15 days after the United Bowl to announce (our intentions of playing in the IFL or leaving for the 2018 season). They stopped including me in league meetings and proceedings within that 15-day period so to me that said they knew we were leaving. We knew we had until around Sept. 30th to have all the paperwork done, and we’d still be within their time frame.”  

When the CIF affiliation announcement was made, things quickly went awry. Carnes continued, “We announced at the press conference, we were going to the CIF and later that same day two teams (The Bloomington Edge and the West Michigan Ironmen) we thought we’re solidified in the CIF for 2018, left and went to the IFL. That was the first time I thought there’s something strange going on here. A few days later, I got notice from the IFL saying they considered my departure involuntary according to the bylaws. I started thinking okay; they were holding us hostage, and they’re making some sort of trade, and things are going to work out.” The IFL, before the return of Bloomington and West Michigan, were down to only five teams, and they had no intention of letting two of their winningest franchises bolt for a rival league. The CIF was upset because both the Edge, and the Ironmen had committed to them and after just one season in the league, chose to return to the IFL. Both leagues wanted the Sioux Falls Storm and the Nighthawks, and it was at this point things really began to fall apart.   Continue reading

Stephanie Tucker, Amarillo Venom Owner and GM

10/05/2017

“Sometimes I’m like come on Nate, throw a couple of more touchdown passes!”

Stephanie Tucker

The Champions Indoor Football League came about as a merger between the Champions Professional Indoor Football League and the Lone Star Football League. One of the CIF’s founding members is a good-natured and strong-willed woman by the name of Stephanie Tucker. Her team, the Amarillo Venom, was initially founded by Randy Sanders. The Venom began life as the Amarillo Dusters in 2003, and played with the Intense Football League. Putting together a 13-3 record, they won their league championship in 2004. The next season the Dusters joined AF2 and against the higher-level, competition finished 8-8. They made the playoffs but then lost in the semi-finals to the eventual Arena Cup winning Memphis Xplorers. After AF2 fell apart, the fans of the Dusters urged the team to join the Indoor Football League instead of AF1. Because the AFL owned the Dusters nickname, the team decided to call itself the Venom. After two seasons in the IFL Sanders sold the team to Tucker, who became one of the founding members of the Lone Star Football League. The team, co-owned by her husband Toby and coached by Julian Reese, compiled a 22-16 record and won the league championship twice. After the 2014 season Tucker, along with Ricky Bertz and Darlene Jones, merged the LSFL with the Champions Indoor Football League to form  the CIF. Since then, the Venom has put together a record of 24-12 and made the playoffs each year. Though they haven’t won their championship yet, their W/L record has improved each season. While it isn’t unprecedented for a woman to own an indoor/arena football team, it is still a bit unusual. Even more unusual is to have the kind of stunning on-field success her team has had. Since becoming the owner seven years ago the team has had only one losing season. Counting their time in the LSFL, their overall record after seven seasons is 46-28. During that span, they’ve made the playoffs six times, made it to the championship game three times, and won it twice. Their 7-3 playoff record along with their overall .621 winning percentage places them among the elite of indoor/arena football . Only the IFL’s Sioux Falls Storm can boast a better record over a longer period of time than the Venom. When asked about her team’s success, she said, “You know what? We’ve been very blessed. I’m not going to lie. It’s been a nice ride.”   Continue reading

EDITORIAL               NAL –  AAL

09/20/2017

With the recent announcement of the Richmond Roughriders choosing the AAL instead of the NAL and more announcements possibly to follow, there has been a lot of contentious back and forth between NAL & AAL fans.  One of the things I’ve noticed is the incorrect assumption’s fans of both leagues are making. The following article will hopefully clarify the issues and explain the conceptual thinking behind the leagues. I think rivalries are a good thing for a sport as intense as 8 on 8 football, but it’s also helpful to take a dispassionate look at the facts. Continue reading

In the Shark Tank with Jeff Bouchy

07/06/2017

by Jay Luster

Jeff Bouchy the Operating Manager of The Jacksonville Sharks

“I’ve been in five championship games, and I have three rings. When you’re there you have to take advantage of it because you don’t know if you’re ever getting back”

Jeff Bouchy Operating Manager of the Jacksonville Sharks.

This past season several teams left the AFL for other leagues. The Arizona Rattlers joined the IFL and are getting ready to play in that league’s championship game this weekend. On Monday July 10th, another AFL refugee, The Jacksonville Sharks, will be hosting the inaugural NAL Championship Game. Their opponent, The Columbus Lions, had played in what Jeff Bouchy the Operating Manager of the Sharks calls, “alphabet leagues.” He means the plethora of minor arena or indoor leagues around the country that have a tendency to pop up and die off. Some of them will last a while like the PIFL which the Lions were a part of for all four years of that league’s existence. When it folded they joined the AIF for a season before it to folded. Bouchy continued, “they were sick of it, and they wanted to start their own league, so they did.” It was called the ADL and was intended to be a developmental league. The Sharks had left the AFL and intended to follow Arizona into the IFL, but he says, “we didn’t fit their geographic footprint so the IFL thing fell apart, which in hindsight, was an absolute blessing. I called the Columbus guys on a Friday, and we met Monday morning at my office.” As it turned out Columbus didn’t want to be in a developmental league either. Bouchy continues, “ We said listen, we’d been thinking about it over the weekend and my partner, Steve Curran, came up with the name The National Arena League. That’s how it came about. We wanted this to be a league that could compete with the AFL and IFL.” The IFL and the AFL are considered to be the big leagues, the place where the best players and coaches want to be. He says, “It didn’t start out that way, but it’s definitely ending up that way. We have tons of players flocking to the NAL because they see the value in it, they see a viable league.” Continue reading

Jack Bowman & Tony Zeferitto Changing Perspective

By
Jay Luster

“Teams come and go, leagues come and go, and we want to change the perspective of it.”
Tony Zeferitto

Tony Zefiretto, the Master of Ceremonies at the APF Banquet

Since the mid-1980’s when it came into being, despite enthusiastic fan interest, arena/indoor football has always lived on the ragged edges of existence. Some teams like the Philadelphia Soul and Iowa Barnstormers have lasted for decades, but all too often teams and leagues will spring up like mushrooms then disappear just as quickly. The constant turmoil makes it difficult for teams to develop and maintain loyal fan bases. If you ask league managers, team owners, coaches, players and fans what they believe the main problem is with the sport, they almost always cite the lack of consistency. Whether it’s the level of play, an understanding of the rules, officiating, or teams not meeting their commitments, all of it creates an environment of mistrust between the fans and the sport.

One of the main problems facing all sport leagues, including the major leagues, is finding league managers and owners who are capable of not only maintaining their franchise, but are also willing and able to help maintain others who are experiencing down years or setbacks. The NFL could not have become the most successful sports league on Continue reading